Speaking for Ourselves

Asylum seeker with a disability appeals for help to raise fees for his PhD study

Asylum seeker with a disability appeals for help to raise fees for his PhD study

Selbin Kabote, Migrant Voice

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Asylum seeker with a disability appeals for help to raise fees for his PhD study

The struggle of a Coventry-based, disabled and wheelchair-bound asylum seeker to raise tuition fees for his PhD in the UK is continuing with no end in sight. 

After applying for admission to five UK universities, asylum seeker Dickson Tarnongo – who is also a volunteer community journalist with Migrant Voice – was offered a place by a Midlands-based university. The university gave him an offer with a home fees status, which means he will pay much lower fees than if he were treated as an international student. 

But he still needs to raise £4,407 for the first year of his tuition and he has set up a crowdfunding page to try to achieve this. With just one week left, he is almost £3,000 short of his target.

Dickson has an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in Law and is planning to study for a Law PhD. He has already developed a PhD proposal on the subject “Disability Rights and Citizenship”. 

“As a person with a disability who has experienced discrimination on the basis of my disability, I intend to use my PhD research work to advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities - the idea being to promote the rights of disabled citizens to be on an equal level with other citizens,” Dickson said.

Dickson’s vision is of an egalitarian society where persons with disabilities are integrated into the mainstream and have a sense of belonging and participation in all areas of human endeavour.

“As an asylum seeker, my PhD research will serve as a means of promoting the rights of asylum seekers into the higher education since people seeking political asylum who intend to further their education in the UK are being held back by many enormous and daunting challenges in their efforts to gain access to higher education,” Dickson said. 

Some asylum seekers may find that their existing qualifications aren’t recognised in the UK or that the language barrier is too high – but the biggest obstacle is often the fees, as most asylum seekers are treated as international students and are therefore faced with huge costs.

“Even though there are some few charities, institutions  and universities working very hard to promote the education of asylum seekers who desire to enter into  higher education, the chances of an asylum seeker to take advantage of such opportunities are very much limited due to lack of adequate funding,” said Dickson. “In this way, the education of asylum seekers in UK is a matter of a ‘privilege’ and never a right.” 

Dickson added that since asylum seekers are people who fled their home countries for fear of either war or persecution as a result of their political opinions, religion or sexual orientation and are seeking international protection, any opportunity that would enable them to get into higher education is very much appreciated. 

When asked about the efforts that he has been making to raise the tuition fees for his PhD studies, Dickson explained that the past few months have been a very difficult period for him as he is anxious to commence his studies but is finding it difficult to raise the fees since he is not entitled to public funds. 

“I have applied for some scholarship and grants from some charitable organisations. I have been getting some rejections, but I am still hopeful that I may be lucky,” he said. “I also intend to talk to friends and the general public to be able to raise funds for my education. I will appreciate any donation towards realising the total amount of £4,407.”

If you can help Dickson with funding for his student fees, please visit his crowdfunding page. Any form of help will be appreciated.

Selbin Kabote is Migrant Voice's Media Lab Project Worker in the West Midlands.


TOP IMAGE: Dickson Tarnongo (provided by himself)